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SEC Weekly Report: Highs And Lows of SEC's First Half of 2015

At the midway point of the season, we are left taking a look at the highs and lows around the nation. We have seen a good number of surprises and stories break out in the SEC with LSU running back Leonard Fournette continuing to impress, Auburn shaking off preseason expectations and Florida jumping out to take control of the SEC East. Here are a few quick thoughts on the first half of the season around the SEC.

1. Boy, were we wrong about Auburn

The Auburn Tigers were quite the trendy pick for the SEC championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Oops.

The Tigers narrowly escaped a massive home loss to Jacksonville State a week after nearly blowing a game in Atlanta against Louisville. The Tigers proceeded to lose twice in SEC play, first to LSU and then to Mississippi State. The addition of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator has not instantly fixed the defensive concerns for the Tigers and Gus Malzahn has already had to switch quarterbacks. Getting to a bowl game may still be an adventure for the Tigers.

2. Leonard Fournette the Heisman favorite

LSU running back Leonard Fournette is now a household name with the way he has been playing on the field this season. The LSU running back has bust open big runs when needed and has shown the ability to carry LSU on his back if needed. Halfway through the season, Fournette has been widely perceived to be the top Heisman Trophy candidate.

3. Is Florida back?

The Gators jumped out to an undefeated start, but suffered its first loss the year after they had to suspend starting quarterback Will Grier for a full calendar year. Jim McElwain's first season in Gainesville has been going well and he has Florida in a good position to grab a stranglehold on the SEC East and a long-awaited return to the SEC Championship Game. Florida's defense will be good enough to keep SEC title hopes alive.

4. Alabama is still pretty good

It became pretty trendy to pick apart Alabama's weak points early in the season, but the Crimson Tide have since proven they are still a top contender in the SEC. At 6-1, the Crimson Tide are the best one-loss team in the nation with an emerging Heisman Trophy candidate of their own in Derrick Henry. Alabama's defense has shut down opponents as well and they're sitting in a favorable position coming down the stretch of the season with a home game against LSU fast approaching. That game could determine the fate of the SEC West.

5. Ole Miss and the SEC's playoff disaster scenario

It remains to be seen how the College Football Playoff selection committee would weigh a potential two-loss conference champion, from a power conference like the SEC, against other potential undefeated and one-loss power-conference champions. Ole Miss is now in position to see to it the committee addresses it. The Rebels could still potentially play for and win the SEC title with two losses, the most recent coming in non-conference play against Memphis. The committee has already established a precedent for the importance of a 13th game and it's possible a one-loss SEC team like Alabama could be left out of the SEC championship game. That would be an interesting situation to sort through.

SEC Game of the Week: No. 24 Ole Miss (5-2, 2-1 SEC) vs. No. 15 Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1 SEC)

The only matchup of ranked teams this week is quite a pivotal one in the SEC West. Ole Miss and Texas A&M have each suffered a loss in division play, meaning a second loss at this point could pretty much eliminate the loser from division contention. Ole Miss looks to shake off an upset loss at Memphis last week, while Texas A&M looks to regroup after being dominated by Alabama.

SEC Upset Alert of the Week: Mississippi State (5-2, 1-2 SEC) vs. Kentucky (4-2, 2-2 SEC)

Mississippi State still looks to be a solid team capable of getting in the way of other team's goals. Kentucky's goal is simply to get to the postseason, and the Wildcats need just two more wins to do that. Kentucky still has a clear path to six wins even with a loss, but the Wildcats have enough to score an upset against Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs.

SEC Picks

Arkansas 24, Auburn 17
Alabama 32, Tennessee 17
Missouri 24, Vanderbilt 10
Ole Miss 38, Texas A&M 32
LSU 42, Western Kentucky 16
Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 23

Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on

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